‘French Bread’

Megillat Kohelet exhorts man to “Cast your bread upon the waters,” to metaphorically benefit others through charity. I prefer giving “drier” tzedakah, so the closest I have come to this was Tashlich, when I would throw crumbs into the water, metaphorically discarding my sins.

At present, a synthesis of these metaphors is occurring as Freedom Flotilla III, 2015, Europe’s contribution to water pollution, attempts to violate Israel’s legal blockade of Gaza. The flotilla, currently consisting of five vessels, set sail from Greece last Friday and is en route across the Mediterranean, approaching Gaza’s shoreline.

Proving the ludicrous, cynical nature of the flotilla, its cargo is the proverbial “coals to Newcastle,” consisting of solar panels and medical supplies — Israel is a leading producer and exporter of each and has made both available to Gaza. What vacuous human rights demonstration would be complete without “humanitarians”? Included in this human cargo are former Tunisian president Moncef Marzouki, a Spanish parliamentarian and, most controversially, a member of Israel’s parliament, Arab-Israeli Knesset member Basel Ghattas (Joint List) who may face legal action in Israel for his participation.

Shockingly, this oceanic pollution receives funding from the French government. It seems France grants taxpayers’ funds to “The Platform of French NGOs for Palestine” via the French Development Agency (Agence Française de Développement, or “AFD”), the French agency equivalent to USAID, whose mandate is to carry out global “sustainable development programs.”

So what is the objective of “sustainable programming” as it relates to Israel? The “Platform’s” umbrella group is a leader in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel and supports more than 40 anti-Israel constituent organizations, all of which demand that the European Union sever all ties, relations and agreements with the State of Israel. It seems “Platform” understands “sustainable development programs” as waging maritime attacks on Israel.

While France is not the only supposed ally of Israel diverting its taxpayers’ money to extreme anti-Israel non-governmental organizations, it currently stands alone in supporting and subverting Israeli government policy. If the clash between Israeli commandos and the ship Mavi Marmara of the 2010 flotilla is any indication, there is a strong chance that French money will instigate another violent confrontation between Israeli soldiers and civilians. France, despite its numerous pleas of commitment to its Jewish citizens and to Israel, may soon have Jewish blood on its hands, if clashes between the flotilla and IDF soldiers turn violent.

An activist from a Swedish vessel in the flotilla claims all participants on her ship have signed contracts that they will resist confrontation in a non-violent manner. She did not expect the vessel to be boarded by Israeli commandos as in the past, but flotilla members would be prepared for the possibility. She could not speak for the dozens of other “activists” participating in the flotilla.

The IDF is approaching this iteration of the flotilla by “hoping for the best while preparing for the worst.” Some military sources actually believe the claims of the activist quoted above that flotilla members will not turn to violence or resistance. Should the Israeli commandos feel the need to board the ships to subdue violent activists, the protocol is clear: The IDF will approach the captain, explaining the option of docking at the Ashdod port. It will be further explained that after a security check, the supplies aboard the ship can be transferred to Gaza. If the captain declines, the IDF will have to board the ship and stop the activists.

Despite international pressure, Israel remains adamant that the flotilla will not be permitted to reach the Gaza shore, viewing it as a vulgar provocation. To quote a leading Israeli politician, “There is nothing humanitarian about supporting a murderous terrorist organization.” The Israeli military is prepared to stop the vessels. “If required, troops will embark on the ships,” an IDF source said.

Israel’s blockade of Gaza is the rare occasion that a U.N. report has supported Israel’s position. In 2011, the United Nations considered the legality of the blockade. Its finding became the Palmer Report, and Israel’s blockade was deemed entirely legal and within Israel’s sovereign rights. Its history dates back to 2006, coming in response to Hamas’ kidnapping of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. The blockade was tightened in 2007 when Hamas terrorists consolidated control of Gaza, turning it into a launchpad for escalating rocket attacks against Israeli civilians.

The flotilla began its final leg last Friday, ironically the same day vicious acts of Muslim terror were committed in Tunisia, Kuwait and France, killing scores of innocent people by bullets, bombing and beheading. The world, Europe, and France in particular, must remember that when it comes to terror, the garbage you throw out into the water often gets washed back on your shores.

*UPDATE: Three vessels returned to their ports of origin of their own volition; one ship was directed by Israel’s navy to the port of Ashdod, where the activists on board will be deported and the cargo inspected and possibly forwarded to Gaza. There were no incidents of violence.


Meir Solomon is a writer, analyst, and commentator living in Alon Shvut, Israel, with his amazing wife and two wonderful children. He can be contacted at msolomon@Hamodia.com.